If you’re looking for something unique in your spring garden, consider the oddly beautiful, inimitable Bergenia. With its fleshy, glossy leaves and stunning spring show, Bergenia is a superb addition to any landscape.
Also called pigsqueak for the cute squeaky sound produced when the leaves are rubbed together, Bergenia features flower spikes adorned with clusters of beautiful, bright pink, bell-shaped blooms in early spring. This clump forming, low fuss perennial is a slower grower that stays in its place. It has a compact habit, and is therefore a great choice as a ground cover and for the front of the garden where you will see it right away in spring. For the biggest impact, plant it en masse in drifts or clumps. It also looks great in containers on its own or in a nice mixed arrangement.
‘Miss Piggy’ is a delightful Proven Winners variety that showcases the best of Bergenia with a bit more foliage height and broader leaves. ‘Miss Piggy’ grows to 16-18” tall and slowly spreads to a width of about 2 feet. The reliable pink blooms in early spring should last for several weeks and make great cut flowers as well. Very nice anywhere but extra gorgeous edging pathways, in rock gardens, and in containers.
‘Dragonfly Sakura’ is another fantastic pigsqueak. So named for the floral resemblance to cherry blossoms (Sakura means cherry blossom in Japanese), this Bergenia is a profuse spring bloomer that features light pink doubled blooms and purple fall foliage. ‘Dragonfly Sakura’ grows to about a foot tall and forms a clump about a foot wide after a few years. Along pathways, front borders, and as a shady groundcover, this plant is a lovely choice.
Bergenia thrives with little care and boasts good cold hardiness. Decent, well drained soil and part sun to shade will keep this unique plant happiest, but it is adaptable to many settings as long as it is not constantly soggy. The persistent foliage shows lovely red tones in spring, looks good throughout summer, and often displays rich red, plum, and bronze fall colors. Don’t forget to take a look at the leaf undersides to reveal the charming red blush!
Bergenia requires very little maintenance overall. Clean up individual tattered, brown, or dead leaves in spring and remove spent flowers after blooming if you wish. This plant takes its time to establish, but may be divided after several years if it starts to look bare in the middle. Best to divide after it has finished flowering in the spring or later on in the fall. Pigsqueak is rarely damaged by deer or rabbits and is reportedly salt tolerant. Indeed, an easygoing plant to enjoy for years to come!